In a world where the importance of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) is growing everyday, it is critical to ensure that the workplace environment and policies support all employees in every way possible. This can increase engagement and employee satisfaction and can also help employees feel more connected to each other and most importantly, to the organization. Ultimately, DEI practices help businesses attract experienced employees from different backgrounds and retain them for longer.
As per a survey by Glassdoor, 75% of job applicants need DEI initiatives in an organization and take it into account when deciding where to work. This statistic proves that DEI initiatives help an organization beyond measure. However, as workplaces move to remote and hybrid settings, it can be difficult to make all employees feel included and appreciated. Remote teams should also be able to feel that they are part of a diverse and inclusive environment that respects their background and insight.
Some simple but mindful steps can be taken to combat the disconnect between remote employees and organizations.
1. Consciously build more representative teams
A workplace with a focus on DEI needs to have a diverse team at every level in the organization. To achieve this, remote employees can be hired from across the world. The past two years have increased exposure and highlighted the power of the internet. Therefore, by utilizing worldwide networks, valuable and accomplished employees can be found from different regions.
A more inclusive team can also be achieved by ensuring that hiring practices are beyond bias and are completely fair. Minority hiring and training programs can be implemented to support employees from underrepresented backgrounds. Airbnb is a perfect example of a company that supports worldwide hiring and promotes the same with its policy of allowing employees to live and work in over 170 countries for up to 90 days a year in each location. Airbnb’s famous mission says, “Create a world where anyone can belong anywhere.”
2. Encourage open communication
It is crucial to provide space and channels to employees where they can feel connected. Since remote employees miss out on lunch rooms, pre-meeting, and water cooler chats, open communication should be recreated in virtual spaces. Employees should feel free to voice their opinion, give feedback and discuss issues. A diversity task force can also be created and deployed to organize events and discussion forums for underrepresented communities. The main goal of these non-work chats should be to help employees feel secure enough to discuss issues like gender, race and age.
For example, HP has a long-standing open door policy that encourages workers to speak up and encourages managers and supervisors to take responsibility for ensuring that work environments are inclusive.
3. Revise the company calendar
Minority groups can feel especially cared for when they can see a part of themselves and their culture become something that everyone understands and recognizes in an organization. DEI committees can arrange festivals and celebrations that eventually help employees feel more represented. Companies should expand celebrations from only a specific religion to one that includes important festivals from other cultures like Diwali for Hindus, Ramadan for Muslims, or Duruthu Perahera for Buddhists among others. Considering more celebrations as paid leaves or company-wide holidays might be challenging or counter-productive, therefore, companies can have a smaller workshop on them or have a quick get-together to educate others about the celebrations. Companies can also celebrate movements like pride month and mental health awareness month by hosting webinars or virtual mixers.
Accenture prides itself on hosting annual celebrations like on International Day of Persons with Disabilities and International Women’s Day.
It is evident that any company needs to have a strong commitment to accelerating equality and this commitment will always lead to mutual benefit and an increase in social welfare. During remote work, it can be easy to forget how much an employee might need to be represented but this mistake can lead to a more damaging one. If a company supports its employees and encourages them to thrive, employees will be more committed to making a difference and contributing at the workplace.